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  MSNBC    Up W Chris Hayes    News/Business. Smart  
   conversation on news of the day. New.  

    September 16, 2012
    5:00 - 7:00am PDT  

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something else. we help make life a little easier, more convenient, more rewarding, more entertaining. year after year. it's the reason why we don't have customers. we have members. american express. welcome in. good morning from new york. i'm sam cedar in for chris hayes. four soldiers fighting in afghanistan were killed in an overnight attack. afghan police are suspected of being involved make k it is second insider attack in two days. the departure of all family members ordered out due to rising security concerns.
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right now, my story of the week. how republicans are using the national crisis of poverty against president obama. at the values voter summit on friday, republican vice presidential candidate, paul ryan, whose budget was approved with aid to the poor respondsed to new figures showing that 46.2 million americans were living below the poverty line last year, a rate unchanged from the year before. still a rate not seen in this country for nearly 20 years. here is what ryan had to say about obama's record on poverty. >> the obama economic agenda failed not because it was stopped, but because it was passed. here is what we got. for long joblessness across the country. 23 million americans struggling to find work. family income in decline. 15% of americans living in
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poverty. here we are, four years of economic stewardship under advocates of the poor and what do they have to show for it? more people in poverty and less upper mobility wherever you look. >> it's not the first time this election cycle we have seen the right raise the spectrum of the poor. ift's not to offer prescriptions or remedies, a means of playing on middle class fears of losing ground suggesting they could become impover shed. calling president obama is the today stamp president is, in the wake of a devastating financial crisis lost the means to put food on the table for their families, but imply some other is living large while the rest of us struggle. that said, we know something about the people romney relies on and what they believe about poverty. remember the romney ads claiming
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president obama was gutting work requirements? putting aside the point that is a policy consideration, they should be loosened for welfare recipients. the claim was a lie. look at the source. the heritage foundation from july 12th. the day before ryan spoke, that july 12th heritage post was co-authored by a senior official named robert rector. who is he? a group affiliated with american bridge dug into his past writings. this claim that welfare recipients were getting away with living a life of leisure, that no one who owns a refrigerator should be considered poor. who once told "the washington post," quote, is poverty harmful to childhood?
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i think not. if you watch the conventions this year, you might be forgoting it's not harmless to children. the stories of parents and grandparents who overcame poverty lifting themselves out of it with nothing but hard work and dedicated effort. they had luck or help from the community that contributed to their success. nor did we hear how social mobility diminished since they pulled themselves up by their boot straps. the fact is, it's harder in the united states to lift yourself from poverty now than it was 50 years ago. yet, in the midst of a presidential campaign where the economy is the central issue, we rarely hear poverty mentioned by either candidate. according to a new report by fairness and accuracy reporting, less than 1% of the campaign coverage addressed poverty in any way. that is, at least, directly.
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consider this, this week's teacher strike in chicago, more than 25,000 chicago teachers went on trike over a mere yad of issues, not the least of which are the teaching conditions in chicago schools. the strike exposed the battle lines between the movement and educators fighting against high stakes testing and a better approach to measuring school performance. driving the battle is educational outcomes to improve economic things for kids. it is always education, which is first and often only mentioned as the cure. that prescription sounds intuitive. what if the premise is wrong? what is robert rector is wrong and it does affect childhood. the average low income child enters kindergarten with 17,000
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fewer words than that of middle income. she can recognize letters of the alphabet. if it's possible the proposition that education fixes poverty is backward and resolving poverty fixes education issues, we have to consider whether our remedies for both are upside down. we have to consider whether asking teachers to improve achievement in school is possible without addressing the disadvantages poor children face on the first day of their school career. if no amount of privatetizing education is a problem, we have to look at the impact of poverty that other policies have. while the media ignores the implications in stories like the chicago teacher's strike, our political establishment adopted an approach in dealing with the jobs crisis to alleviate poverty
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and create more of it. austerity plans may cut medicare and social security will add to the ranks of the poor. there's no decent from the corners of the so-called serious thinkers in washington. how is this possible? how it is with record numbers of people living in poverty and many more anxious, they are on the verge of falling into policy. we are providing no response, not even a rhetorical one. i want to address these issue, especially how they shape the battle of education. let's bring in gary young, a columnist for the newspaper and author of "who are we and should it matter in the 21st century." julie cavanagh, a member of the teachers group and co-producer of the film, the inconvenient truth behind waiting for superman. josh and melissa, director of
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poverty and prosperity program that aims to cut poverty in half in ten years. welcome all of you. thank you for joining me. so, we have this amazing real -- i mean this strike, it's taking place in chicago and very well may end today. it really deals with a lot of different issues. the union issues which have been in the headlines for at least since wisconsin, the political campaign, of course, because of president obama's relationship to rahm emanuel and his secretary of education came from chicago as well. it also involves education reform and, of course, under girding this and may be laying on both the bottom and the top of it. education plays a big part in this. i want to start with you, gary. you have been reporting on this. give us a sense of how we got
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here with the chicago teachers strike. >> well, chicago has been the crucible of reform for a couple decades. it didn't just start with rahm emanuel and arne duncan. it's an attempt to privatize the education system. that is the easiest way to describe it. rahm emanuel comes in with an agenda, millions invested in kind of trying to promote the schools and to change the strike rules so you need 75% of the eligible voters, teachers to strike. >> in fact, the strike laws were changed a year ago. it narrowed what the teachers could actually strike in response to. >> they could only strike about paying conditions, they couldn't talk about class sizes. they would look self-interested. so, rahm comes in with his
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reform agenda. he immediately reneges on the previous agreement that the teachers have for pay increase. then comes the push for the longer working day for which he wasn't going to pay teachers very much more, i think 2% more for 15% to 20% longer working day. then a change in the strike laws. the teachers have a vote and they vote 98% to strike. it's almost north korean proportions. teacher dissatisfaction by that point. the city then tries to put it into touch and give it to an arbitrator and say you decide where to go. the arbitrator decides with the unions. throughout this time, the overwhelming number of parents in chicago side with the teachers even after the strike begins on monday. they sided with the teachers.
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rahm emanuel describes it of a strike of choice. it's a choice by rahm emanuel. it was set up to work like this. the teachers union did a lot. fired up communities as well as teachers. a lot of this happened in the predominantly black and latino areas. it brings us to the strike, a massive show of force, cars, hooting all around the city every day, big rallies around the city. yesterday, a huge rally with teachers coming in from wisconsin and it brings us to, what i think has happened, the city blimp. >> yes. we are going to hear today, at 3:00 p.m., the teachers leadership is going to vote as to whether or not they are going to accept the terms or have a tentative deal. we have to take a break. i would like to talk, bring in a parent.
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i think one of the big aspects of the story is the parents support and the notion that the teachers are striking. they can't necessarily fully articulate officially what they are striking upon. we'll take a break and be right back. why should saturday night have all the fun? get two times the points on dining in restaurants, with chase sapphire preferred. scroll... tap... pinch... and zoom... in your car. introducing the all-new cadillac xts with cue. ♪ don't worry. we haven't forgotten, you still like things to push. [ engine revs ] the all-new cadillac xts has arrived, and it's bringing the future forward.
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we are talking about the teachers strike and one of the amazing elements we were talking about is as a parent of a school child, the idea my child would not have school for five days and the scrambling that would have to take place in my household to do that. after that, you have 60% to 65% of parents supporting the teachers strike is pretty amazing. part of that is that while the
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illinois labor relations act says teachers can only strike for compensation reasons, basically for money, there's been a lot of teachers and even some officials of the union who said essentially this is about the conditions. a lot has to do with the conditions that we are teaching in. tell us what you know about those conditions. yeah. the strike was obviously about working conditions but working conditions are student learning conditions. in chicago and across the country, what we see is huge class sizes. in chicago class sizes are in the 40s, children packed into a room with no air-conditioning. the proliferation of charter schools is training money from the coffers. this huge issue of high stakes testing, it's not just a teacher's issue. it's detrimental to students. they have done a great job of
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articulating these issues. this isn't just a chicago situation. this is a national and international problem we are facing with the privatization. teachers are in the best place -- we are seeing on the local level in chicago, a defining moment and hopefully the beginning, not the ending today at 3:00, the beginning to end corporate education reform. >> to come in on that, the chicago school strike was not just about chicago. it's a very important point to reiterate. this conversation is taking place all over america. >> right. >> actually, pretty much all over the western world. it's also in britain, a withdrawal of education as a public good. something that is free to the point of service and good for the public. instead, the introduction of
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privatization and a kind of route testing for poor kids. rich kids get their libraries and all of that. for the poor kids, it's drill. >> in fact, melissa, that's part of what's going on here. that's why we say poverty sort of lies on top of this issue and below it because the reason we see this redistribution of resourc resources for charter schools and privatize a way is because the public schools are basically servicing middle income and lower income children. they have less political power in which to get the resources. >> right. the funding formula is set up is tied to property taxes. you have built-in inequalities to tackle through reforming the streams as well.
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you are seeing these kids are coming in at a disadvantage. in zero to five, it's a critical time for a child's brain development. they are like sponges. kids are entering in at a disadvantage. as a country, we are not invested enough in education k-12, we haven't made significant enough investments in early childhood to get them to enter. >> yeah. this is a blog post by a teacher who is on strike named sheeon. he explains why he went on strike. he wrote, when you make me cram 30 to 50 kids in my classroom with no air-conditioning so the temperatures hit 90 degrees. when you arrest them for play fighting in the halls, that hurts our kids. when you take 18 to 25 days out
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of the school year for testing that is not scientifically applicable, it hurts our kids. when you spend millions of pet programs but no money for school repairs so the roof leaks on my sturnts, that hurts the kids. here is a parent from chicago making the case that this money the being redistributed away fwr the public schools into a pet project. he speaks about how unfair it is. his maim is matt farmer. he was delivering this speech at a board -- at a ctu rally back on may 30th. >> your kids attended the university of chicago laboratory schools, correct? yes. same school mayor rahm emanuel chose to send his kids to, correct? the university of chicago laboratory school has seven, count them, seven art teachers
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on their faculty. isn't that right? yes. but, you are aware that a school you just voted to close a few months ago had zero art teachers on its faculty in 2011, isn't that right? yes. your students also receive music education from day one at the lab school. isn't that true? yes. your students had physical education class every day at the lab school. isn't that right? >> yes. your students had libraries, beautiful libraries to study, research and right. isn't that true? yes. you are aware, ma'am, as we sit here today, 160 cps schools do not have libraries. isn't that right? >> that was matt farmer. he was addressing -- he's a parent from chicago public schools. we are going to have matt farmer in from chicago. one of those parents who has been supportive of the teacher's
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strike right after this. we'll be right back. to compete on the global stage. what we need are people prepared for the careers of our new economy. by 2025 we could have 20 million jobs without enough college graduates to fill them. that's why at devry university, we're teaming up with companies like cisco to help make sure everyone's ready with the know how we need for a new tomorrow. [ male announcer ] make sure america's ready. make sure you're ready. at devry.edu/knowhow. ♪ [ slap! slap! slap! ] [ music, laughter stop ] [ male announcer ] when your favorite foods fight you, fight back fast with tums smoothies. so fast and smooth, you'll forget you had heartburn. ♪ tum tum tum tum tums [ male announcer ] tums smoothies.
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i want to bring in matt farmer. he's a parent of students in chicago. thank you for joining us. >> good morning. thanks for having me. >> matt, you were making a case to a member of the chicago public school board that essentially, your kids and the kids in chicago public schools deserve the same opportunities to express their creativity to be, in some ways i don't know if coddled is the right word, but allowed to thinking and learn in a more creative space. tell me what's behind that. i mean, how much you feel your child is losing out by not having these opportunities. >> let's be clear, i raised the
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names of rahm emanuel and penny in my may 23rd talk to teachers not because they are wealthy people who send their kids to private schools, they are. they have the right to do that. but, both of them, at this point, are public officials making education policy for our public school kids. it's in that capacity i asked the rhetorical questions i did of her and the mayor. they know and they advocate for things for their own kids which they are not quick to provide to our kids, 85% of whom are black and brown in the chicago public school system. 87% of whom are low income kids. let me give you an example. i talked about the lack of libraries in our schools. 160 cps schools do not have libraries. penney who has great jobs is spearheading a fund raising drive to raise money for newer,
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better libraries for the lab school. as they know, they are important things for a child's education. two years ago, almost to the day, a group of mexican american mothers in the pillson neighborhood started a sit-in that lasted 47 days because they were trying to get a library for their kids grade school. they were threatened with the rest during a sit-in. the head of chicago public schools threatened to turn, in fact, did turn the heat off in the building they occupied as temperatures got cold in october. there's still no library at that school. i spent a lot of time with those moms during that sit-in. one of the things we heard was essentially this talking point. why do you think you are special? we have 160 schools that don't have libraries. when you are on a sit-in, you have nothing but time on your hands. this group of moms and community activists served up requests on
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chicago public schools. what we learned was yes, there are 160 schools without libraries, but we request the data. where are the schools? we plotted them on a map. 18 of them were north of north avenue in the city of chicago. that means the other 142 schools were concentrated in the south and west sides of chicago where we have the most concentrated poverty and segregation. there's a profound difference in the types of resources that kids in different parts of town receive. that's a big problem. so, when sean barette talks about the lack of air-conditions, the lack of resources, his kids talk about the lack of textbooks, this is very real. >> this is -- i mean this is not uncommon, right? we are looking at people who have no political constituency or no political power so their needs for their children are not
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addressed. >> you have 70% of low income schools in need of modernization or repairs. when you are in a learning environment where the roof is leaking it's hard to level the playing field to have the same shot of the american dream. >> what about the notion that -- i have noticed this in terms of charters in this city. we can't make a blanket statement about charters, but they are more rigid. they don't allow for the creativity you might see at a lab or experimental school. what, of that notion, creativity and sort of lateral thinking is something for wealthier kids but lower income kids, they just need to learn how to sort of survive in the business world. >> right. it's inharntly ray cyst.
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the very people creating these policies choose the opposite for their own children. instead of investing hundreds of millions of dollars, the state of new york raised $700 million. that is being used for testing. we could be using that money to provide our teacher, provide music teachers, not just air-conditioning. that's, you know, we are talking the narrowing of curriculum and the lack of experiences that would really bridge that achievement gap or poverty gap. unfortunately, our policymakers are taking it in a different direction. we need childhood prevention. when they enter kindergarten, you don't have kids in a class reading on a second grade level and kids who don't recognize it. it's not a teacher problem or union problem, it's society's problem. we need to address the issues. >> the funny thing, we haven't
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gotten to, what i understand it, the two key sticking points that brought it into the strike. they are not these conditions issues and not compensation issues, it's the way teachers are evaluated in the city of chicago and the extent that testing is going to flow through to evaluations in staff and how teachers will be recalled or rehired. >> we'll get to that when we come back. when we talk about how we evaluate teachers and those issues and if they are the prominent issues in the strike. . but between check-ups tartar builds. keep it clean with new listerine® ultraclean™. it's the only mouthwash with a new tartar control formula for a dentist clean feeling. ahhhhhhhh. [ male announcer ] new listerine® ultraclean™. power to your mouth™.
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[ male announcer ] new listerine® ultraclean™. if we want to improve our schools... ...what should we invest in? maybe new buildings? what about updated equipment? they can help, but recent research shows... ...nothing transforms schools like investing in advanced teacher education. let's build a strong foundation. let's invest in our teachers so they can inspire our students. let's solve this. when we left, you were raising the issue that this strike was, in your opinion, a function of the issue of teacher evaluations and the idea of how teachers are laid off. >> right. basically, what i understand to be the two most -- the biggest points of contention they are
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disagreeing on is how teachers are evaluated and the role testing plays in that. the district is expecting to close a large number of schools and they want to say when you hire new teachers they are laid off. the position is that the principal should be able to decide who to hire. >> make it clear, on the layoffs, it's when they decide to close a school. it's not based upon the evaluation of the specific teachers there. >> right. >> it's an evaluation of the school and they get rid of all the teachers. the union is saying we want those teachers who have not been evaluated to be first in line in rehiring. >> as i understand it, they are talking about something where they put them in a high performer and low performer for those who have the high evaluations. with regard to the no issues, as
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far as i can tell, they have come to terms on that. they have agreed to rehire 500 teachers and subjects to offer more things like physical education in more of these schools. the real point of contention is, to what extent teachers should be held accountable and how it's done. how much flexibility should be given in staffing schools versus enhanced job security. this is the key question is how you balance these working condition issues for teachers with the ability of the public school system to be able to evaluate teachers and hold them accountable. >> okay, go. >> to some extent, you are right, but to some extent when the cps gets teachers they have been knocking on the strong arm again and again. i have not met a single teacher
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who doesn't believe there shouldn't be an evaluation. it's the kind of evaluation. >> rilgt. my understanding is the value added, a measure of where you evaluate a teacher based upon what the students do opposed to what the teacher is doing. to the extent that the union has a problem with that use of evaluation, they are only arguing about to what degree it should go into their evaluation, 40% versus 25%. >> specifically tests. >> right. >> specifically tests. the evaluations in which teachers can be evaluated. when tests are -- this is the kind of principle spearhead of this amendment. when tests are at the forefront, teachers teach to test, they don't teach children, they teach tests. >> that's fine except you have a problem where 99% of teachers
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are rated satisfactory or better. i would like to see more criteria so long as it's a system that holds teachers accountable for performance. >> the test exists x right? >> right. the problem is, it would be nicer to have more well rounded evaluations. that's not the policy on the table. it's a huge percentage of these evaluations based on test scores. what we know about test scores is what they are a measure of is socioeconomic. children in areas of high poverty, we are talking about using tests to hire and fire teachers, we are talking something dangerous. when you look at the national standardized tests used in and around the world to rank countries in terms of educational outcomes, the united states is at the top. when you factor in the students
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we fall to the bottom. poverty matters. they have drawn a line on this not because it's a working condition solely for the teacher, they are learning conditions. they are standing up for this because it's a detrimental policy to children. not because it's detrimental to teachers. >> the point is methodology. let matt get in here. >> sure. let me give you a couple real world examples here in chicago so your viewers understand how the standardized test evaluation mechanism would work here in probably the most segregated school system in the country. let's take harper high school in chicago's englewood neighborhood. in 2011-2012, 27 former and current high school students shot, eight of them killed. the school is 96% low income students. 98% african-american. a 71 -- 73% attendance ragt and
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31% mobility rate. 31% of the kids who start in the beginning of the year don't end up there. let's compare it to the school my youngest child attends. we have 6.5% low income kids. 5% african-american kids. 97% attendance rate. 2.1% mobility rate. when kids at my daughters school need help with test prep, the parents break out a check and get the preparation they need. the kids at my daughter's school knows how to take a test is a function of their background. they are not worried about their classmate having been shot the previous week. they are not among the 15,500 homeless kids in the chicago public school system where there's 370 social workers in 684 schools. you want to know how they do on standardized tests, look at their zip codes and what their
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parents do for a living. >> josh, we can come back and respond to that, but we are setting up the notion poverty implicates the evaluation of teachers. we are evaluated them based upon how the students are doing and poverty is implicated how they do. ♪ why not make lunch more than just lunch? with two times the points on dining in restaurants, you may find yourself asking why not, a lot. chase sapphire preferred. there's more to enjoy. the calcium they take because they don't take it with food. switch to citracal maximum plus d.
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you just missed an awesome dance off between the dads. oh... wow! (laughing) you just missed the cake fight. seriously? everyone's taking pictures like they're paparazzi. are we missing that? we're not, check it out. aww, yeah, haha. excuse me. vo: get all your friends' photos automatically with share shot on the galaxy s3. hey! first dance! are you kidding me??? so, we have been talking about how one of the problems in measuring the ability and quality of teachers is a function of the social context in which students enter into the schools and that's going to affect how they perform and it's, in many respect, not telling anything to judge their performance as a -- as a result of how teachers are teaching. >> if what we are coming up with
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here is it's unreasonable to expect teachers who do their job well to show up as increased student performance, it's depressing about our ability to improve social outcomes in education. >> that may be the case. >> i think it's a little strange to address it as do we need to improve educational standards and improve the performance of schools or do we need to address childhood poverty and crime so the children are in a better position to learn? it seems clear we need to do both things. it's dangerous to think because the situation is dire socially in these urban areas, we shouldn't expect to be able to measure educational performance. >> how much you can expect of one without the other. there's a limit to how much excellence you can get when kids are getting shot and not eating breakfast and everything they are doing outside of the
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classroom is so dysfunctional. >> this is the chicken and egg question. on one hand, we expect education to solve poverty. on the other hand, it is poverty that inhibits the ability for a lot of our kids to be educated. i ask the question, is part of this intentional? the national conversation, the corporate conversation is poverty doesn't matter and a good teacher in front of every kid is what matters. i say, this is a convenient way of doing nothing at all. we have to do both but we are not doing both. why isn't the conversation about doing both and why aren't the policies and reforms targeted at doing both. i thank them for doing it. >> i don't think it's like what bill and melinda gates are up to. i think people would prefer not to spend government money on antipoverty programs.
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i don't think it's the agenda for the center of american progress, a promoter for education reforms. i think it's telling the reason in chicago you are going to have the school closures is the expansion. nobody forces a parent to send their kid to charter school. >> if it's closed, then actually, the more charter schools and public schools the less choice you have. >> matt farmer, you want to add something here? >> one of the concerns teachers and parents have with respect is this. the mayor campaigned on getting a longer day for school children. he took forever to unroll the plans as to how they were going to be funded. the talking points included, you know, adding music, adding p.e., et cetera. the choice how to do it is left up to the schools. not a lot of talk how to fund that. here is the rub. the principals in the south and
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west side of chicago have things hanging over their heads. that is, if they don't get the test scores up, the schools are going to be closed and teachers fired. if you are a principal and you are told you have 45 minutes or an hour a day and here's a small pot of money to do something with it, are you going to start teaching kids how to work a pottery wheel or do more kill and drill testing? on the south and west sides of chicago, i'm not confident it means additional art and music. >> i think josh made an important point. we can't let poverty become an excuse that low income children can't succeed. it's absolutely both not either or. >> the question is, do we need to address poverty to get those educational outcomes? i don't think anybody is using that for an excuse. nobody wants to leave our kids
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uneducated. is it efficient not to address poverty first and educate kids who enter into kindergarten with 17,000 listening vocabulary. >> i agree poverty is a very big factor. if we can invest in early childhood education and make sure kids are coming to school fed and getting breakfast and lunch. if we can make sure there are community programs and arts programs to address the trauma of violent neighborhoods and things like that, it can happen on the same track to pursuing education reforms that lift up achievement. >> matt farmer, chicago public school parnlt, thanks for being here. julie cavanagh, thank you for joining us. what does it mean to be poor? coming up next, we'll talk about it. a thing that helps you buy other things. but plenty of companies do that. so we make something else. we help make life a little easier,
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we have been talking about
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poverty in relation to education. for the bigger picture, listen to how politicians used to talk about poverty. >> the hopes of the republic cannot forever tolerate either undeserved poverty or self-serving wealth. >> many americans live on the outskirts of hope. some because of their poverty and some because of their color. and all too many because of both. our task is to help replace their despair with opportunity. and this administration today, here and now declares unconditional war on poverty in america. >> it doesn't happen anymore, at
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least not from politicians. it's more of an abstraction, not part of the whole. we want to talk about why that is. joining me, we have tonja, founder of lives behind numbers, a blog that tracks poverty in the united states. steven, the author of "the people's history of poverty in america" an associate professor at columbia university and steve gates, chicago youth programs and john reel, assistant to the director of senior services america inc. tonja, i want to start with you. i was a guest on this program a month ago or a couple weeks ago. you talked about your experience in the wake of the great recession. just tell us a little bit about what the past couple years have been like for you and your family.
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>> the last couple years have been rough. since the recession, we had to finds ways of maintaining our lives. one of the things we decided to do was go back to school. we are in school now. we have two children and with our school money and assistance we get our food. we manage to live. >> you went from middle income, upper middle income, essentially, both you and your husband lost your jobs. >> correct. >> give me a sense of just -- i know you decided at that point, you had a bit of a dilemma, didn't you to go back to school. >> we did. of course you have to consider, well, if you go back to school, where are you going to get the money to pay for your bills? where are you going to get the money to pay for your apartment. where are you going move to live
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off your loans? how are you going to do it? we decided he would go to school first. he did well in school. at that point, i was working part time and maintaining the family that way. unfortunately, the part time work wasn't enough. we were having trouble providing food on the table of my family. so, we decided to actually apply for assistance for the first time in our lives. it was a devastating moment in our family. it was heart breaking to me that i had to go in there and apply for services. i knew it was something that needed to be done for my children and needed to be done for my family. i did what i needed to do. >> right. i want to talk more about sort of the differences of experiences and how it -- how it's different to sort of drop from, i guess middle income into the lower income level. i know john, you had a similar
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experience in some respects. we will talk about that when we return. we have to take a quick break and we will get back to this conversation.
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so, we are talking about how this country addresses poverty and how it's addressed it in the past and education for poverty and at the same time, poverty is a limitation on people's capacity to be educated. i wanted to go to this campaign ad. we heard a clip from lyndon johnson. i wanted to go to this campaign ad from lyndon johnson in 1964. >> poverty is not afraid of character.
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it is created anew in each generation, but not by heredity, by circumstances. today, millions of american families are caught in circumstances beyond their control. their children will be compelled to lif lives of poverty. president johnson's war on poverty has this one goal and provide everyone a chance to grow. a chance of education, a chance at the fruitful life. for the first time in the history of america, this can be done. vote for president johnson on november 3rd. the stakes are too high for you to stay home. >> we are laughing here because it is an amazing thing to hear in a presidential campaign an ad saying circumstances beyond their control. john, just give me a little
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sense of how circumstances beyond your control have impacted your life. >> first, i would go back to a must read for people who want to understand what's going on with poverty and the work in this country. there was a book called, "working" and basically the author was chronicling the struggles people went to have work. they would do anything and go anywhere. my family was one of those families back in the '30s, who basically had to pick up and move thousands of miles to find work because there was no work where they lived. it caused a great disruption of life. so, it's ironic that we have this wonderful rhetoric yet decades later having spent billions of dollars elsewhere on much needed programs that we
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were sold on and we still find poverty is worse now than it has been before. >> we have no stopgaps. i mean in your circumstance, you had to essentially, your career was -- the circumstances that you had to deal with involved your mother becoming ill. >> i placed my life on hold. my mother became stricken with alzheimers. i was running a small business at the time. i elected to take care of her for nearly ten years at home, overseeing everything that was needed. the choice was made because, as a single mother bringing me up in the 1940s, with no other help, i couldn't abandon her. i just got an ethic to do something like that. i elected to take care of her.
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we, in turn, were abandoned by caregivers that would leave without notice. i came home from my business to find my mother locked in her room. the lady moved out without giving notice. i was forced to close my business within two weeks of that event. so, i have never regained what i lost in that transition. my mother has since died, of course, but it's something that stays with you. it's terribly disruptive. and i mean, it carries over into many constituencies in our society. >> indeed. steve, as you sit here, i know that during our last panel we were talking about education as a panacea of poverty. you have been working in the south side of chicago. >> correct. >> with you, under the youth
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advocate program, tell us about, you know, what your experience is and what the experience of those youth that you are working with. >> well, first of all, it's funny to sit here and be a part of a panel and talk about poverty. i'm the only black person, you know. what i deal with in the society that i live in, the poverty is so desolate and deep. the south side is so segregated. it's strange, almost, to talk about applying for food stamps and that being painful when, in chicago, on the south side, the food stamp thing or apply for link is almost normal because the poverty level is so desolate. but there's hope. the people on the south side are resourceful. they are resilient. so are you, tonja.
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there's nothing to be ashamed of. there are millions of people that utilize the food stamp program. i have seen it where they are not trying to go to school, they are trying to feed four or five kids and when it comes to education, how do you begin to learn if you are hungry. how do you focus or talk about test scores when there's no lights and gas? we are talking deep, deep poverty, not just missing a citibank payment but there may be a couple meals that are missed. >> steven, that is historically, one of the biggest changes in the '70s and '80s. the number of people living in deep poverty tripled, didn't it? deep poverty, we define it as
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over 40% of the -- >> think of it as $11,500 or below for a family of four. >> the people living in a community of deep poverty is where you have over 40% of those people living in poverty. how else has it changed? >> if i can, i want to bring up something steve said and pull it back to education. i hope we have the opportunity to thank steve for bringing up the question of race. we want to talk about it in the context of the american criminal justice system. when we think of education, there's a lovely 1967 movie with sandy dennis called "up the down staircase." a do gooder goes into the bronx to uplift the black and brown people for a better life. she runs through all the obstacles those move vis have to
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walk into. it looks like what the south side of chicago looks like today. the woman she's with says look around. our kids are here 18 hours a day. we have them for six. that's the ratio, 18 to 6. when we think of education, the folks expect these utterly super human efforts of the people contained in those rooms for six hours a day not realizing the array of forces pushing against in the other 18 hours. i think it's useful to think about poverty in the same way as well. you are accused of tonja being unrepresented because she's smart and funny and she's interesting and she's energetic and working hard and struggling with that experience. you'll be accused of you are selectively picking people and not showing what poverty looks like. >> right. >> this is what it looks like. this is what the large number of people are.
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the problem is, we have especially poor neighborhoods an array of systems pushing constantly against them and directing barrier after barrier after barrier. the simple act of getting food in your stomach and getting to school without being injured requires super heroic efforts and, yet, when we think about poverty, we think of well, we hold up the people as examples and say more people should do like this. as opposed to suggesting maybe it would make more sense to focus on all those obstacles that make it much more difficult for some people rather than others just to get up in the morning. >> we do that. what we do is we meet the hierarchy of needs. >> the youth advocate. >> the advocate program, right. there's fundamental needs, food, clothing and shelter, right? imagine not having that.
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>> let's come back to that. we are going to take a break and come back. you can tell us about what it is to attempt to break out of poverty without even the basics assistance levels of tools and assets you need to break out. >> thank you. ed to take care of legal matters. wouldn't it be nice if there was an easier, less-expensive option than using a traditional lawyer? well, legalzoom came up with a better way. we took the best of the old and combined it with modern technology. together you get quality services on your terms, with total customer support. legalzoom documents have been accepted in all 50 states, and they're backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. so go to legalzoom.com today and see for yourself. it's law that just makes sense.
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so, when we broke, steve, you were making the point about how difficult it is to break out of poverty without the basic of assets. i want to put up a chart from the heritage foundation, the source for the welfare, the loosening of work requirement welfare ad that romney put up is from the heritage foundation.
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robert rector writes facts about the poor. this was posted about a year ago. the chart shows the percent of households with certain amendties. 92 pkts have microwaves. 50% have internet service. 33% have a big screen or plasma lcd. the argument there is, how can someone be poor if they have a television set? steve, let me get your take on this because you work in an area of extreme poverty and i would imagine that a tv set, one way or another is not going to help you get out of poverty. >> let me start by saying, or addressing the microwave issue. in chicago, the microwave may be the only thing they had.
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opposed to paying a gas bill. the gas bills have quadrupled. with some of our kids, you talk earlier about poverty opposed to education. those kids are so resilient and they are miracles. there are programs and there are workers that have given these kids and families hope, irregardless of the fact they are poor and desolate poor. they are underserved. finger high school, one of our partnerships, we have had a decrease in the drop out rate, 15%. we had a 10% increase in attendance. yeah, the kids that we were given to serve, of those kids, 85% of them graduated. >> what accounts for that? >> it shows like people that
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care. it's systemic organization. it's part nerships with government and on the ground programs that work and address the hierarchy of needs. i can't expect you to learn if you are hungry. i can't promote test scores if you are not safe. last year, since 2008, 1300 kids were shot. it's hard to focus on an art program or an after school program when 127 were killed since 2008. that is -- there's a direct correlation with violence and poverty. you can't go around it. i think this is a serious conversation but we also need to have it on the state level, the federal level. there's not a blanket cure for it. each person or each family, like
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tonja and this young man, they are very different in their strides. you know, what's going on. so, we would have to take an individualized approach to meet the needs for each individual family. >> but we shouldn't leave whether any individual is going to have the opportunity not to get shot to the happenstance of whether he or she is in a neighborhood with this program. >> if the kids in chicago, if that was happening in manhattan or long island or for us in naperville or northbrooke there would be an outrage. >> it does, but no one pays attention to it. >> it will be a blog, in the metro section of the sun times. they will have stats. we are charged to work with those kids.
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i think mayor rahm emanuel is trying to partner with us and try to kind of seduce some of the violence the best he can. but, the poverty, the violence, there are a bunch of underlying issues that go into that mess. >> ultimately, we need to have funding and policy prescriptions on a federal level that provide for things like that. >> absolutely. >> we are going talk about that in the next segment. steven, author of "poverty in america". steve gates, john wheel from senior service america. thank you all for joining us this morning. >> thank you. a stunning new report on how little coverage poverty is getting in the presidential campaign. that's up next and how we are going to address these issues of poverty.
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poverty is represented in politics x culture and media, that is when it's represented at all. according to a stunning report from fairness and accuracy reporting, poverty is barely an issue in this year's campaign. a report found 0.2%, 0.2% of campaign stories included stories of the poverty crisis. by contrast, 18% of campaign stories mentioned budget deficits or the national debt. deficit cutting at the expense of poverty is not unique. mitt romney and paul ryan talked about it. domes barely made mention of the poverty crisis. instead, they touted a plan, the simps
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simpson-boles that cuts medicare, medicaid and social security even though president obama backed away from the plan when it was released in 2010. he remains committed to reaching a grand bargain with republicans on deficit reduction. >> there are some programs that are worthy, but we can't afford them right now. i'm willing to do more on that front. i'm, you know, more than happy to work with the republicans. what i said, in reducing deficits, we can make sure that we cut $2.5 for every dollar of increased revenue. back with us at the table, josh from bloomberg view, gary young from the guardian magazine, melissa from the center for american progress and tonja. give us a sense of the implications of cutting a
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medicare or social security on poverty. >> the recent census numbers show that senior poverty would have been five times as high last year without social security. it's an amazing program social insurance wise that keeps seniors able to have dignity. a program that doesn't get attention is medicaid, not just for poor children that ensures the health of poor children, but 70% of people in nursing homes use medicaid. it's a program for people with disabilities, vulnerable seniors and low income children. ryan and romney would kick 30 million people off the program. >> president obama implied he's willing to put cuts to medicare on the table and we have seen cuts to medicaid. josh, what accounts for this? is it a difference in view of
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what can help poverty in. >> i think the president deserves more credit on this than he gets from the left. the issue are the poverty campaigns. in an environment where cuts to spending are inevitable where medicare is supposed to double over the next 30 years rk it's not going to happen. there are going to be cuts. the president forcefully pushed for expansions of aid to the programs, principally through the health care and also creates a new middle and lower class. he's made priority decisions where there were cuts. his proposal on defense spending takes it down to less than 3% of the economy. basically, what the president has done is not just make a commitment to anti-poverty programs, he's found cuts elsewhere in the budget to make it possible.
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what romney and ryan laid out is a proposal that says we are going to increase defense spending, steeld medicare from cuts over ten years, rescinding a 10% cut that was part of the president's health care law and we are going to cut taxes. the thing they don't say is that the only way to make that math work is with big cuts in programs. >> i disagree because i think that he's not criticized enough. he hasn't made a single speech on poverty. the word poverty appears three times in the state of the union speeches. he pledged when he was standing that he would half poverty in ten years, cut it in half and it's gone up. he said he would raise the minimum wage and he hasn't. there are all sorts of obstacles, but the fact is, we have a president who stood on the slogan of yes we can. but increasingly, the slogan for
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his re-election could be worse. >> let me tell you this, both what gary and josh are saying is true. we have not heard much of the words poverty spoken by the president. but, at the same time, particularly in the stimulus, there were expansions of the stimulus that helped people like yourself. >> correct. >> what's more important to you? i guess it's obviously to have the assistance. >> correct. >> we need to further these programs, we need somebody to make the case. >> what i think is the problem is that they really don't put the human face behind the numbers. they are cutting the numbers and forgetting every number represents someone's life. they totally forget about that. you have these children on medicaid and you are going to cut the numbers. what are you going to do with the children? they are going to be sick. they have no way of getting medical attention.
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do we let them die? do we let them stay sick? instead of cutting the numbers that provide the services for the people, try making the programs better. try making them more efficient. try a paperless effect on the programs. try uniting them more. try to make cuts in those parts instead of the cuts that are giving the benefits to the people. the people need this help right now. this country is in poverty. if we were talking about viruses or something that would spread on 15% of the population, we would be immediately acting upon it. tons of resources would go into this. no, we are talking poverty. so, nothing gets done. >> we are going to take a break. you mention the idea politicians don't see people, they see numbers. when we come back, we are going to listen to mitt romney's explanation. his interpretation of what middle income is. it may give you a sense of how out of touch he may be. [ male ] when this hotel added aflac
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so, mitt romney on george stephanopoulos was asked, what constitutes middle income. >> the fundamentals are these, reduce taxes on middle income people. principal number one is keep the murder down. >> $100,000 middle income? >> no, $200,000 to $250,000 or less. >> this is what the president talked about. he's protecting taxes on middle income people. this is the bizarre and dre strucktive idea that basically nobody is rich and nobody should be subject to paying more tax. it's a ridiculous stance, but
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it's not being an out of touch rich guy. he might be but this isn't good evidence of it. it's where the president is. frankly, i think the choice of occupy wall street emphasized 99%. 99% of american households are south of $400,000. if you are trying to make everybody the oppressed, you are going to end up with discussions like this. >> someone is taking his lesson from occupy wall street? >> i think there's a left idea of what it means to be middle class which is ridiculous. >> i disagree. coming from britain with the dna of the royal family, there's an issue in america where 91% of america believes they are middle class. that can't be true. middle between what and what? in the absence of the
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conversation, you talk about poor and rich. 19% of americans in 2000 thought they were in the top 1%. nobody knows what's poor. instead of talking about who has power, you talk about who has war. it's a nebulous conversation. >> you have the stealth then, you have a conversation that is superficial here and that sort of has a shield over what the actual policies are. if you look at romney's tax and budget plans, he's proposing $2.9 million in tax cuts and cuts of an equal amount to food stamps, supplemental income, school lunch, tax credits for low wage working families. nearly 3 trillion in cuts for the poor and tax cuts for the 1%. instead of the conversation about the budget choices, there's a conversation of where
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the line should fall. >> to your point between rhetoric, there's an interesting moment with bill clinton talking about medicaid where he made a very succinct and correct pitch of why you should care that romney cuts spending by a third. don't you know most of medicaid spending is long term care mostly for disabled elderly adults and children? he doesn't know what is going to happen. >> if he's making the argument it should not be viewed as a program for the poor, but viewed as a middle class social insurance program. like you say, we have elderly people on medicare and they spend down their assets. they spend their way through medicare. they go into nursing homes and medicaid picks them up. >> bill clinton found out it's a winning political issue to defend medicaid. other democrats don't want to talk about it. the president didn't talk about
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it in his speech. it's a bizarre omission on the part of democrats. they are, to an extent there on the policy. they just don't want to talk about it. they think it's a losing issue. >> let's show an interesting bar graph. this comes from larry, the american political science association from 2011. 87% of wealthy people surveyed by the researchers showed budget deficits were an important problem. 60% said child poverty was a very important problem. i mean, theoretically, what is -- why would we be worried about deficits, right? it would impact our economy and i guess, presumably, you would have more children in poverty in the worst case scenario, yet we are seeing our political elite,
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essenti essentially. this is the discourse through following the policy prescriptions. when we come back, we'll talk more about that and what can be done about it. oid does. and does it launch apps by voice while learning your voice ? launch cab4me. droid does. keep left at the fork. does it do turn-by-turn navigation ? droid does. with verizon, america's largest 4g lte network, and motorola, droid does. get $100 off select motorola 4g lte smartphones like the droid razr.
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versus the leading value brand. don't worry, there's plenty left for you dad. we all go. why not enjoy the go with charmin ultra soft? we have been talking about the lack of responsiveness of policymakers to poverty on some level or rhetorically. josh made the case president obama has been good on this accord. here is what paul ryan had to say at the values voters summit on thursday in terms of what the democrats have done for the poor. >> here we are, four years of economic stewardship under these self-proclaimed advocates of the poor. what do they have to show for it? more people in poverty. less upper mobility where you look. >> the poverty numbers started
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going up in the wake of the financial crisis. social mobility has been a problem for 25 to 30 years. give me your response to that. you were hoping to hear more from the democrats at the convention about poverty. >> i was. i was disappointed to hear nothing mentioned about poverty. there was maybe two instants where they referred to poverty. i felt a little bit of satisfaction when i heard them say we don't leave a man behind. it's a famous motto in the u.s. that is one of the things that gave me hope and told me, hey, they are looking out for me. i realize, if they mention poverty, it will be dmoonized. that is unfortunate. when did we get to a country where helping the poor should be strainful? it was disappointing. at the same time, i felt somewhere they are thinking about it, whether they mention it on tv or not. they are trying to implement
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something. poverty is an issue. >> how did we get to the point where the idea of providing services to the poor is -- is problematic and at the same time, paul ryan is criticizing for no more responsiveness to it? >> i think we have come to a point with a radical individualism. everybody is out for himself or herself. i don't think we can ignore the racial implications as well. you had ronald reagan with the welfare queen. people seeing the poor as this problem over there that's for somebody else. in america we look out for each other. you have to realize, when we leave people on the economic margins, we don't have the full team on the playing field. it's inhibiting economic growth
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and deficit reduction related. cutting poverty will help in the long term. >> there are two things the government needs to do, raising standards of living with the poor. the other is insuring a robust economy with low unemployment and people can support themselves. i think the government has not done well here or in most of the western world. i think the administration bares a lot of the blame for that. that's the place to criticize them. >> what would you like to see them do? >> put more pressure on the fed earlier for monetary policy. i think what we saw from the fed this week is a very good thing that will grow the economy and push unemployment down. it should have happened two years ago. obviously, the president doesn't directly control that, but he should have done it. >> isn't a fiscal stimulus going to be more helpful on that
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accord? >> i think they are, to some extent, interchangeable. they both matter. the president got much as he could out of congress. once it was clear he couldn't get anymore, he needed to pivot to plan b and he didn't do that. other things could have been done on housing. >> i want to back up to something that was said about the racialization of the poverty. i think it was gingrich that said if i'm elected, i'll tell black people you don't need food stamps, you need a job, obama is a food stamp president, the notion that has the welfare queen thing of that poverty. it's about black people and latinos. it's actually not true. half the people who are poor in this country are white. by racializing poverty in that way, they manage to leverage a
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working class who instead of thinking about their own condition and actually saying i'm as poor as you are, they are saying you have mine. somehow you have my food stamps, you have my welfare checks. >> i don't think it's a coincidence when looking for political ads that mention poverty, we need to go back to 1964 and 1965 that mention poverty may be on the control of the individual. we don't see very much talk in political campaigns as an asset to run on advocating or diminishing poverty since really the mid to late '60s. >> after '65, you get the nixon strategy, welfare becomes a racial word. medicare becomes a racialized word. so, these things become neutral. you are not talking about the
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poor. you are talking about black people, even though the well majority of black people are not poor. it becomes a black thing. therefore, the democrats don't want to. republicans want to kind of, just kind of put out there like bait. >> talking about the poor has become toxic in our political environment to the detriment of many, many poor people. one of the things i think we need to get more people talking about poverty. we need to get the poor people talking about poverty. ultimately, they are suffering through this. who is out there asking them? what do you think? what do you think should happen? what kind of services need to be fixed for you to get that advantage so you can go back into the work force? no one is asking the right people what to do. when they talk budget cuts, budget cuts. who is it helping? is it helping a single person?
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no. is keeping the program and keeping with the budget and fixing it to help people, who is that helping? k it's helping millions. there's a big difference there. >> right. >> what we should know next for the news week ahead, coming up next. ♪
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so what should you know for the coming week? if you think that obesity disqualifies someone from being considered poor, it may surprise you to know that lack of access to cheap healthy food choices is a common signature of impoverished communities. you should also know that a big source of cheap fast food, mcdonald's, will begin posting calorie counts on all menus. you should know the move is expected to create pressure for other fast food chains to do the same. but you should also know that they have to follow suit by a deadline that's not yet been determined. and you should know that the
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reason we'll have a deadline for change with more than 20 locations to post their calorie counts is because of a federal law popularly known as obama care. despite a new report from heritage foundation, you should know that marriage is not in fact a get out of poverty free card. according to stephanie countries on the council from familiar -- poverty appears to make marriages worse. the fact that many live owe women live in poverty are single or o divorced may have less do with marital status than the fact that poverty makes it tougher to stay married. you should also know that half the children living in impoverished families are living with their married parents. you should mow that tomorrow, september 17th, is not only the one-year anniversary of up with chris hayes. it's also the one-year anniversary of the occupy movement. most notably, occupy wall street. you should know, while the occupy movement no longer captures the headlines with massive rallies the way it did a
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year ago, it's succeeded in changing national discovers. even republicans are talking about the 99% and the 1%. you should know that occupy and its offspring continue to draw attention not just to wall street but to specific issues that bring wall street into real people's lives. student loans, foreclosures, even public transit. and you should also know that the only way occupy has a chance to effect real change on these issues is if people participate. finally, you should know that lawyers for whistle blower bradley berk enfeld announced this week that the irs will award him $104 million for revealing what he and others at ubs did to help clients evade u.s. taxes. in a case which has ultimately made switzerland far less welcoming to u.s. tax evaders. his whistle blowing led to the collection of more than $5 billion in unpaid taxes from 14,000 wealthy americans who participated in a 2009 tax
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amnesty program. meaning for instance, that if one had to hypothetically engaged in this illegal swiss bank tax evasion scheme and then one took advantage of the amnesty program, such activity would be found in one's hypothetical 2009 tax returns if one were to release such returns of one's such as it is. i want to find out what my guests think we should mow for the week coming up. let's start with tanya. >> what i think we should noi for the upcoming week, considering the media is focusing on the poverty issues because of the numbers coming out this week, more people should take advantage of this and come out and speak up about the poverty issues and about the poverty so maybe we can get political action going to help out more people in this country. >> that's a great idea. josh? >> well, you should know for this week and many weeks coming after it, based on last week's
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announcement the fed is going to keep quantitative easing at a pace of $40 billion plus a month. not just for a while but until the unemployment situation improves substantially. this is a big change from what the fed has done in the past. the fed has previously taken action to prevent us from going to deflation. they're going to keep the foot on the gas until people are going back to work so long as inflation doesn't start to spiral basically out of control. i think this is a big shift in policy that's going to matter a lot and am hopeful it produces economic growth and finally a significant reduction in the unemployment rate. >> do you think that the political pressure that bernanke felt from republicans, we had rick perry saying all sorts of things. do you think why it's taken so long? >> i don't know exactly why. bernanke doesn't have direct person control over this. there's an 11-1 vote for this action. there was previously more internal resistance in the fed. he didn't want to do an aggressive policy with a lot of
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internal dissenters making noise. something happened that allowed him to consolidate support. i think the message finally got through that we're going to continue this limp recovery if the fed doesn't do something. if i were cynical, i would say that bernanke decided the writing is on the wall and the next president has to reappoint him. romney would want tight policy. obama i would want loose policy, although he hasn't said anything about it over the last four years. i think maybe -- >> gary younge from the guardian newspaper. >> you should know that despite almost inevitable claims to the contrary, if the chicago teachers strike is settled, it won't be a victory for rahm emanuel. quite the opposite. if he wanted a solution, he would have gone for it from the get goe ziemt melissa boteach. release a state and local poverty numbers. this will be a chance for people to take this conversation we've been having to their own communities. i would them to go -- two interactive maps to easily put
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in zip codes, find your data. >> happen ten.org. i want to thank tanya wells, josh barro from bloomberg, gary younge from the guardian and melissa boteach from the prosperity program at the center for american progress. thank you all. thank you for joining us. we'll be back next weekend saturday and sunday at 8:00 a.m. eastern time. i won't be back. but chris hayes will be. up next is melissa harris-perry. melissa has a panel of small business owners to find out what they really want or don't want from the government and an exclusive interview with author maya angelou. i'm sam cedar. thanks to chris for letting me sit in his chair and thanks for making me look good. thanks for watching. you can find me at majority report.fm. see you next week for the return of chris hayes right here on "up."
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